Sunday, October 04, 2009

GOP Civil War Breaks Out In Florida-- When Will Rubio Play The Gay Card Against Charlie Crist?


Far right conservatives from around the country-- and Sunshine State teabaggers who get all their information from Hate Talk radio and Fox "news"-- have flocked to the banner of Florida extremist Marco Rubio. Last week George Will's teensy weensy little heart was all aflutter for what he called "the boyishly handsome Rubio," and predicted an unlikely victory in the Republican primary against Establishment candidate Charlie Crist, the current governor. Crist was handpicked by John Cornyn, fellow closet queen Mitch McConnell and the NRSC to save Mel Martinez' seat for the Republican Party in a state that is trending blue. He leads in every single poll-- by a lot.

But Republican activists have no use for Crist who has tried-- until recently when Rubio frightened him away-- to work with Obama. Until recently Crist shied away from the basic right-wing strategies of denying Obama's legitimacy and obstructionism. He actually put partisan politics aside and decided-- unlike almost all his fellow Republican governors-- to put the citizens of his state first. This went over very well with independents, moderate Republicans (and Democrats). But the hard core GOP base-- especially the supercharged party activists, Limbaughists, Glenn Beck followers and the ones who have mixed up Fox and their Buy-Bull classes-- flipped their collective wigs.

So along comes the little known ex-Speaker of the Florida House. He barely registered in the polls and Crist quickly rounded up the endorsements of conservative Cuban politicians, like the powerful Diaz-Balart crime family, to counter Rubio's appeal. The entire Tallahassee Republican establishment joined the entire Inside the Beltway Republican establishment to anoint Crist the party's nominee. A small handful of voices from the extreme right fringe called out the party for ignoring Rubio. Enraged rightist bloggers started screeching for a boycott of the NRSC. The Senate's most reactionary member, South Carolina secessionist and seditionist Jim DeMint, endorsed Rubio as did jailbird Jeb Bush, Jr., Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and two of Florida's most extremist congressmembers, batshitcrazy Ginny Brown-Waite and the man who may have been the model for Alan Grayson's "knuckledragging Neanderthal" remark the other day, Jeff Miller. None of that would matter much-- especially with Crist studiously avoiding even acknowledging that Rubio is running (let alone debating him)-- except for one thing: Rubio has won every single straw poll among Republican county executive committees in the state-- by landslides!
Hernando County- Rubio 46, Crist 0
Gilchrist County- Rubio 11, Crist 1
Jefferson County- Rubio 30, Crist 6
Highlands County- Rubio 75, Crist 1
Pasco County- Rubio 73, Crist 9
Lee County- Rubio 60, Crist 9
Bay County- Rubio 23, Crist 2

Rubio's numbers are starting to creep up in private Republican Party polls and in the last few days Crist, through surrogates, has come down hard on him. Yesterday Rubio informed his supporters that he's under serious attack.
We all knew this day would eventually come. After months of negative headlines about his stewardship of Florida, pretending he is unopposed in the GOP primary and refusing to debate Marco Rubio on the issues affecting Florida’s and America’s future, Charlie Crist has finally acknowledged he has a real fight on his hands and is reverting to his tried and tested approach of smearing whoever stands in his way.

Faced with Marco’s growing momentum and a public growing increasingly sour about his own record of supporting tax increases, the wasteful Obama stimulus package and cap-and-trade, Crist and his allies are lashing out with misleading, negative and personal attacks. As the Miami Herald reports today, “Crist allies are starting to push back at the notion that Rubio is a conservative’s dream candidate.”

Rubio touts the accolades showered on him by right-wing luminaries like the aforementioned Logan Act violator DeMint as well as Hate Talk Radio kook Laura Ingraham, unindicted Abramoff crony Grover Norquist, and architect of the Insurance Industry's astroturf efforts against health care reform, Dick Armey. The rest of the letter was all about how Rubio needs donations to fight the "smears." The smears, however were a careful recounting of Rubio's record as Speaker of Florida's House. There was nothing in them Rubio or his rightist allies could dispute.
Crist allies are starting to push back at the notion that Rubio is a conservative's dream candidate. Rubio is undoubtedly to the right of the governor, but he has strayed on occasion from the GOP's core principles of smaller government and less spending.

"His is a cunning and convenient conservatism that is inconsistent with his record,'' said Miami political consultant Carlos Curbelo, who has worked for Crist and took a job with Crist's ally, Sen. George LeMieux.

When Rubio served as House speaker, one of the most powerful positions in state government, he spent $2 million more on salaries and hired 20 people more than his predecessor. His communications director making six figures resigned amid the mounting criticism. (Rubio replaced him with someone with more experience at a smaller salary.)

Rubio also spent half a million dollars remodeling the House chambers to accommodate his new committee structure.

He forced two top lieutenants out of their leadership posts in 2007 after they were the only lawmakers to vote against an insurance reform bill that expanded the state's role and risk. And on Rubio's watch, the Legislature approved a pork-laden budget in 2007 that prompted Crist to veto a record-setting $459 million.

The following year, Crist vetoed a transportation bill that could have helped a Rubio friend bid on a major contract for Florida's Turnpike.

That all sounds more like business as usual than "an idea-driven conservative reformer [who] promotes an authentic alternative agenda,'' as Rubio was lovingly described in the Weekly Standard.

Monday the highly acclaimed film Outrage will start airing on HBO for several weeks. The films points clearly to Crist's hypocrisy as a closeted homosexual who has persecuted gay people for personal political advantage and to help cover up his own "transgressions."

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